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2005-04-23 12:00 a.m.

these could be the good ol' days

Hi. Discussed elsewhere, I’d say Ben Folds’s new album is good news for people who like bad news (and in still more misfortune, that album title was already taken).

In addition to a brief return to Jesusland, I’ll be going to see Kabuki in June. In about a week I’ll be starting a week long hitchhiking trip, attempting to visit three places of note in every single prefecture in Kyushu within about seven days or so.

As you may know, t-shirts with weird nonsensical English that most Japanese don’t bother to try to actually read are pretty common in Japan. I’d stopped really paying attention to it, but the other day one of my elementary school kids was wearing a shirt that said U.S. NAVY in big letters, and then in smaller letters said this: “The U.S. Navy was in many ways unprepared for war when the Japanese brought America into World War 2 with their attack on Pearl Harbor.”

You know, things are way better at the middle school now that Matchan is gone. I no longer dread going there; in fact I kind of look forward to it. The Hawk keeps me informed, she talks to me a lot, she asks for and respects my opinion, she treats me like a friend, she speaks English in class, she’s actually interested in teaching the kids to communicate in English, she has nearly impeccable pronunciation and knows how to teach it to the kids… I realize now that the vast majority of my dissatisfaction the first eight months I was here can be traced straight back to Matchan. Though considering how much I time I devoted to complaining about her, I guess everyone else must have realized that a long time ago. I guess I just got to the point where it was normal to me. How else was I supposed to deal with that shit? What the fuck was up with her, anyway? The world may never know. Weird how the temperament of one key person can make such a huge difference in your job satisfaction, isn’t it?

My only quasi-complaint about The Hawk is that she’s a little harsh with the students sometimes. But she sure keeps ‘em in line, boy howdy.

My relationships with the middle school kids have been improving, too. I think we’re finally getting the hang of each other.

I’m glad I’m staying for another year. I’ve been here nine months now, and I’ll remain here for another fifteen, but already I feel like my time here is slipping away. It’s strange, but I feel like since coming here I’m really living in the present much more completely than I ever did in the past. Even as a child, before I was old enough to go to school I was always waiting to start school. Then it was waiting to get to the next grade, to get to junior high, to get to high school, to get to college, to finish college, to get out of the country. But now, suddenly, I’m not waiting to get anywhere. Certainly I’ve got other plans, desires, and goals, such that there’s really no way I’d be persuaded to stay here past August 2006, but… I’m in no hurry to get there. I guess maybe I’m just…

No, I don’t want to say the word. I don’t want to jinx it.

i think i’m dumb

The new teacher at the high school is pretty much refusing to do any lesson planning whatsoever for lessons that involve me. So it’s the Greyarea Method of English Instruction for the next year, I guess. I gave the kids a little survey to fill out, asking which lessons from last year they liked best and least, what kind of stuff they want to study for the coming year, blah blah. All five of them said there wasn’t a single lesson that they didn’t find both interesting and useful. So I’ve decided that makes me The Best Teacher in the World. Even if they consistently fail my tests, much to my chagrin.

Continuing my reign as Not Only the Best Teacher, But the Coolest Teacher in the World, today at the high school I did a lesson on “Your Song,” by Elton John, as performed by Ewan MacGregor in Moulin Rouge. The lyrics are actually printed in their conversation textbook, so this was totally legit. We went through and talked about what the lyrics mean and then we watched that scene from the movie. I thought it would be pretty simple and was worried about what else we would do to fill up the time, but… As it turns out, that song’s pretty hard. Try explaining to Japanese high school kids what “If I was a sculptor, but then again no, or a man who makes potions in a traveling show” is supposed to mean. And when you stop to think about it, “I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words how wonderful life is now you’re in the world” is a pretty complicated little sentence. Especially considering that in Japanese you’d say all that pretty much in reverse order, that sentence as a whole is basically gibberish to a person with even a good grasp of Japanese high school level English.

We had another earthquake the other day, at around 6am. I think it was about a 5.3 on the Richter. You tend to get this idea in your head, from long experience, that the earth under your feet is something stable that can be relied on to stay still. But on a geological time frame that’s nowhere near true, and occasionally we get little reminders of that here in our little be-born-and-then-die time frame.

Apparently many of the characters in Excel Saga are named after hotels in Fukuoka. You’ll also notice that the name of the place it’s set in is “F City.” Interesting. (Well, it is to me!)

The new pope guy is kinda scary looking, doncha think? Some of his ideas are a little scary, too. Reprimanding people for ministering to gays? Dude, has he ever read that New Testament thing? I heard that was something Catholics do sometimes. But stuff like that makes me wonder, cause Jesus woulda never done something like that. (Though in his defense, upon further investigation, these guys seem to be saying that Catholicism should stop seeing homosexuality as a sin and accept it. While that may be reasonable, condemning that is a far sight different from condemning merely “ministering” to homosexuals as implied by the earlier article.)

Huh. Interesting, but something about that is fishy. I think it’s the old “correlation does not imply causation” mantra from freshman statistics.

Colin Powell, proving once again that being a Republican doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a total dick. If he was to run for president, I’d say there’s a fair chance I’d actually vote for him.

On the other hand, we have Bush striking yet another blow for the Man. I wonder when middle and lower class America will realize that this Bush guy is not on their side? Sigh.

Should I apologize for the series of long, disjointed, and infrequent entries lately? It’s my new thing, I guess.

we rejoice cause the hurting is so painless,